Recovery is a process of healing from compulsions and growing in our God-given identity, for the purpose of serving others with similar struggles.
If one isn't careful, recovery can simply become another way to feed self-centeredness, much like addiction does. The focus in the early stages is very self-focused, working to close the gaping wounds of lust, pride, childhood trauma, and more. This self-focus is healthy and necessary at this stage, but it is only the beginning of the journey. If one gets stuck in healing, they never fully break free to the joys of serving.
Acts 20:35b - ...and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
If you want to experience the deepest riches of recovery, don't get stuck in healing. Work hard to grow in grace so that you can serve others with pure motives and a clear conscience. Here are a few tips to help you serve well.
Serve at Home
The obvious place to "practice" serving others is at home, right where you live. Serving is not an "event" or project, it is to be a way of life. And each of us does life every day at home. Begin to seek out ways you can serve your family, keeping in mind that serving is about placing other's needs above your own.
Philippians 2:3-4 - Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Are you counting your family as more significant than you, their needs as an opportunity to serve? Serving your family doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require that you know their needs. To serve them you must know them. To know them you must spend time with them, talking and sharing and listening.
Here are some ideas of how you might serve at home:
- Do the dishes.
- Lead times of bible reading and prayer.
- Teach your kids a skill (i.e. mowing the lawn, changing a flat tire, building something, etc.)
- Help your wife on a project -- any project!
- Be present as much as possible; you never know when an opportunity to serve will arise.
Serve your family. Your joy in recovery will be multiplied.
Serve at Work
When you read "serve at work" it may feel redundant. Don't you already serve at work? Isn't that what "doing a job" is all about? Yes and no. Yes, you serve at work in the sense that you have a boss or shareholders or a mission that is the driving force behind the specific tasks you do. But that isn't the same as the kind of serving God wants us to do at work.
1 Peter 4:10 - As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Serving at work is about serving the people you work with. Are you being a good steward of God's grace in the workplace? Are you helping others without ulterior motives? Are you making sacrifices for the advancement of your co-workers without regard for your own success?
Here are just a few ideas of how you may serve at work:
- Be quick to speak kind words of encouragement to co-workers.
- Offer helpful advice to newer employees.
- Volunteer to help others on projects, letting them get the credit.
- As appropriate, offer care for ill co-workers.
- Make coffee, buy lunch, be present.
Your "job" is the place God put you to serve. But you are not there just to serve your boss, you are there to serve God by serving your co-workers. Do this well and your treasure will be great in heaven.
Serve Every Day
Mark 10:45 - For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
The example Jesus set for us was clear: love others. He walked from town to town sharing the Good News of His Father, and caring for the needs of the people. He spent His earthly life touching lives. Every day.
It is easy to get lulled into thinking that recovery is all about you. But this is no different than what your lustful addictions taught you. Recovery is about Jesus, and the beautiful, eternal work He wants to accomplish through you. As you get "cleaned up" and deepen your growth in grace, you will discover that your recovery was always intended for the benefit of everyone your life touches. Will you allow God to use you in such a profound and enriching way?
Every day, serve someone. It is the entire reason for recovery. It is the way Jesus taught us to live. Anything less is woefully unsatisfying. Live in such a way that when your life is over it lingers on in those you served...